Luke and Nat Hughes are fooling around on the verandah of the Raglan Surf Co.

Luke cheekily tries to draw his younger brother in for a hug but Nat retaliates by rubbing his hands on Luke's head and face.

"Alright, which one of us is taller," Luke says, chuckling.

Luke looks over the surfboard which was the last concept he worked on with his late father, Craig. Raglan, Waikato district, New Zealand

Nat stands on his tiptoes to give him the height advantage.

There is an obvious fondness between the pair who, along with mother Liz and sister Ariel, own the Raglan Surf Co as well as the associated Hughes surfboard brand.

Brothers in arms. Luke (left) and Nat Hughes mess around on the deck of the Raglan Surf Co building. Raglan, Waikato District, New Zealand

The man who started it all, family patriarch Craig, died in 2013 from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

It was a tough time for the family but they regrouped during a surf trip to Sri Lanka. There, they made the decision to continue the legacy that Craig started.

Now they're about to take the company on the next step of its journey.

After 25 years of making memories and a livelihood at the Wainui Rd location, the business is moving down the street into the Vinnies restaurant building.

Vinnie's, like Raglan Surf Co, has been an institution in the west coast town. Growing up, Luke spent a lot of time in both buildings.

So it feels natural, he says. There has been a groundswell of community support, both emotionally and financially, to help secure the new digs.

Craig, an artist and surfboard shaper, was always passionate about ensuring the boards were shaped and finished locally and the current building was the original factory for Hughes surfboards.

Luke has now taken over the role of shaper while Nat and Liz help run the shop.

Ariel, who has spent the last two years at art school, doesn't want to miss the momentous year so she's sticking around for 2017, too.

As Luke talks about his father, the move and the company's history, tears stream down his face.

"I wear my heart on my sleeve," Luke says, making no apologies.

It's an emotional time, getting ready to bid adieu to the building where his father built a reputation in New Zealand and across the world.

"You could rock up to any surfing town in New Zealand and see a Raglan Surf Co sticker on the back of a car. 

"People from the international surfing community would come in, when they were here for competitions and sit in the back of the factory and just talk. I didn't know who they were, I just thought they had big frizzy hair."

These days other sports heroes want their piece of the pie.

Olympic shot putter Val Adams came in over the festive season to get a Raglan Surf Co hoodie.

By moving and refreshing the company, Luke believes he is honouring his father, and his heritage.

Both of Luke's grandfathers were surfers. His maternal grandfather was Wales' first surfer. His paternal grandfather was a physical education teacher who helped get surfing into the New Zealand curriculum.

"And mum, at 54 is still out there surfing everyday there is a decent wave."

At the heart of it all, for Luke, is living life to the full.

"They say that the best surfer is the one having the most fun - that's what it's all about."


Raglan, Waikato district, New Zealand. #lovewaikato #openwaikatoRAGLAN

Whether you're looking for world-class surf, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches, inspiring arts or simply a good old cup of coffee, laidback Raglan offers the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

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